Better Biofuel Feedstock from Beets
Widespread use of petroleum-based fuels for transportation contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and makes the U.S. more dependent on foreign oil. Advanced biofuels are a promising renewable alternative to petroleum-based fuels, but with current technology it is not economically feasible to produce them in large quantities. To make advanced biofuels cost-competitive, new, significantly more efficient ways to produce fuels from sustainable biological sources are needed.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Plant Sensory Systems (PSS) is developing an enhanced energy beet that will provide an improved fermentable feedstock. A gene that has been shown to increase biomass and soluble sugars in other crop species will be introduced into beets in order produce higher levels of non-food-grade sugars and use both nutrients and water more efficiently. These engineered beets will have a lower cost of production and increased yield of fermentable sugars to help diversify feedstocks for bioproduction of fuel molecules.
If successful, PSS’ innovation could increase the sugar production capacity of energy beets per acre up to 30%, thereby increasing the economic feasibility of using energy beets as a biofuel feedstock and increasing the geographic range of domestic biofuel crops.
Increased production of domestic biofuels could help the U.S. diversify our fuel production, reducing our dependence on foreign nations for our energy security.
Because plants naturally absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels are less than half that of petroleum fuels. Biological carbon fixation through photosynthesis reverses the combustion process.
The U.S. imports nearly $1 billion in petroleum each day. Biofuels can be produced domestically, allowing us to keep more dollars at home.